Skip to main content

Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

See other formats

The above extract was written by Lloyd George when his acquaintance-
ship with the European and Polish problem was indeed comparatively
new, when Germany was still a strong Power and there seemed little hope
she would be defeated. A few years later, Lloyd George was to become
a zealous defender of Poland's independence when this independence was
to fall in line with the British interests. Quoting^ for instance^ his speech
of loth August, 1920 :ó
"It is not merely that we are morally bound to interest ourselves in the
life of a nation which is an ally and to which we have undertaken to give
support in the event of its national existence being challenged. There is,
in addition, the danger which is involved to the c Peace of Europe * if you
have a great aggressive Soviet Empire conterminous with Germany. There
are those who believe that the Soviet Republic is essentially a peaceful one.
Let them believe it. But in spite of every effort to make peace, if the Soviet
Republic rejects conferences for the purpose, if it postpones them, if it intro-
duces conditions which involve a practical annexation of another country,
then whatever the Soviet Republic was yesterday, to-day and to-morrow it
will become an imperialist militarist Power."
In 1944, however, when Churchill was developing his thesis of a further
westward Russian penetration into Europe, the fate of Germany was
already sealed and even at that time a strong fear had sprung into being
that the Russian intrusion would over-reach its limits. To endeavour to
explain Churchiirs policy, therefore, by the reasoning applied by Lloyd
George in 1914-1915 seemed pointlessóChurchill was bowing beneath
the threat emanating from the Kremlin. There was a remarkable simi-
larity between his renouncement of the creed of a life-time, and the
behaviour of the old Bolsheviks at the c purge * trials held in Moscow.
The Russians sum up this attitude in one word, cc pokayanye/* a
word which has no equivalent in any other language.
The debate which followed the Prime Minister's speech of September
28, showed that there was no essential change in the House of Commons*
altitude as far as Poland was concerned. The House, with the utmost
discretion, followed the advice tendered by the Prime Minister that u in-
temperate language about Polish and Russian relations " can bring
" embarrassment to (British) affairs and the possible injury to Polish
fortunes," and that the " Hon. Members will take upon themselves a
very great responsibility if they embroil themselves precipitately 3> in the
controversy, and he expressed himself confident that " I can trust the
House not to engage in language which would make our (the British
Government's) task the harder."
Although the House dutifully abided by this advice., the Debate which
followed revealed that Great Britain was still conscious of the obligations
she had voluntarily assumed towards Poland and was3 moreover, deter-
mined to see them through. As the Debate continued;, it became in-
creasingly obvious that a complete ignorance and misapprehension with
regard to Russia and the affairs of Central Europe still existed among many